Enosh – The Israeli Mental Health Association – During the current tensions

Founded in 1978, Enosh is the largest mental health organization in Israel. It has 75 service centers that deliver comprehensive community-based rehabilitation programs to over 6,700 individuals and 16,000 family members. Enosh operates in the domains of housing, employment and socialization, as well as family consultation and youth treatment centers for early intervention. Additionally, Enosh has spearheaded significant changes in mental health advocacy, legislation and service delivery, bringing its expertise to the forefront of the global mental health and disability rights agenda by gaining consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council – ECOSOC.

Target Audience: Enosh service users are young people aged 12 – 25 with mild to moderate mental health problems (e.g., anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual orientation, and gender identity) residing in Jerusalem. The target-population is quite diverse and includes people from different socio-economic background, ethnicity and religion such as: religious, secular, orthodox Jews, Arabs, immigrants, LGBT, etc. Youth mental health is one of Israel’s biggest health and economic challenges. Mental health disorders account for a staggering 60-70% of the non-fatal burden of disease among 15-24-year old’s, as at least 75% of teenagers aged 13-18 have experienced a mental crisis.

Operation Guardian of the Walls
As Israel is going through a very difficult time, Enosh’s, the Israeli mental health association, activity is significantly affected. After a year under the Covid-19 pandemic’s circumstances, in recent weeks they have witnessed a rise in violence and insecurity levels of Israeli citizens – both by rockets fired by Hamas’ terror organization from Gaza and by riots accruing in various Israeli cities between Jews and Arabs.

Due to the current situation, 45 (2/3) of Enosh’s community mental health centers, with about 600 employees and over 4,000 service users, are under the threat of missiles. Also, 25 of Enosh’s service-centers operate in Jewish-Arab mixed cities in addition to six service centers which are located in all-Arabic regions with over 300 employees and about 2,000 service users.

Since its establishment, Enosh promotes coexistence and commitment to working with diverse professional staff in all sectors of Israeli societies and even provides multi-lingual and culture-oriented services. The unfortunate events have significant negative effects on the mental wellbeing of people with psychosocial disabilities and their caregivers, mostly their close family, who are more likely to experience anxiety, depression or addiction disorders due to stress. As a result, there is up to 40% rise in the number of inquiries to Enosh’s community mental health services in the domains of housing, employment, social-recreational centers, youth treatment and family consultation. In addition, there is a substantial rise of 400-700% in the need of intensive treatment, intervention, engagement as reported by the professional staff. 

Enosh has a well-established emergency work plan which enables us to shift smoothly from daily routine to extreme situations. As a response to the complicated circumstances, they reacted by providing short-term emergency strategies for assisting both employees and service users:

  1. Expanding availability and reinforcing staff in Arab-Jewish mixed and bombed cities as well as mobilizing service users according to local dynamic needs.
  2. Supporting lonely service consumers with coordination to other services and enhancing emergency guidance and daily assistance.
  3. Increasing online communication activities for stress relief, social interaction and mental resilience.

Consequently, they face an immense additional workload and stress load to hundreds among our employees who are also in need of support – “any helper needs some help and relief” as they live under the same threats along with their families. In order to cope with the above long-term consequences, they will need to support our current service users and staff as well as the noticeable wave of new service users by: 

  1. A designated relief and resilience supportive program including both a getaway and dynamic workshops.
  2. Organizing coexistence workshops and lectures to employees and service users.

In conclusion, the current violence and unrest are rather a continuation to an intense year under Covid-19 circumstances, which has resulted in a 40% enlargement and reinforcement of the organization’s community mental health activities due to the growing need.

At this period of time, the Enosh teams are working diligently to provide over and above support to all of their service users. This multiple intensification of effort could cause exhaustion, stress and may lead to burnouts among employees.